Good Eats, founded in 2017 by philanthropist, Adam Rosante, is extending its goodwill endeavors to a new program serving the town of East Hampton, entitled “Bridge Bags.”
This program will “Provide a week’s worth of groceries to low income families during the last week of the month – a time when it’s often the hardest for families struggling to make ends meet as it’s when the paycheck or assistance has run thin or run completely out. The program was inspired after hearing the needs of the community and then addressing them in an environment that fosters connection and education while prioritizing nutrition and health.”
The first official Bridge Bags day will be Sunday, June 27 at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. Rosante and his team are working directly with the East Hampton School District social workers to identify the families in need. There are other local organizations that are being added to the program, such as a local shelter for domestic violence survivors as well.
After visiting an urban farm in Harlem many years ago to install raised bed gardens, Rosante was appalled to learn that elementary age students in one school on 136th Street who received weekday meals through subsidized programs were “staving on Saturdays and Sundays,” along with thousands of other children. Rosante was inspired to launch the non-profit, Good Eats. Now with services in Los Angeles too, Good Eats is keeping kids fed.
The mechanics are simple, “Every week, community volunteers pack unmarked backpacks with breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks for Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, the kids pick up a backpack and take it home for a weekend of healthy, wholesome eating. On Monday, they bring the pack back to school and it starts all over again.”
In our area, Good Eats is now collaborating with Amber Waves Farms, an ocean-side farm of about 25 acres which “unites food and community with the mission to provide rich educational opportunities in agriculture for aspiring growers, thoughtful cooks, and eaters of all ages, and whose farming practices “are based in responsible and sustainable agriculture and land stewardship, and commitment to the thoughtful management of the land, soils, and other natural resources so that [we] and our community may continue to enjoy them for generations to come.”
Along with a small flock of laying hens and three friendly farm cats, each season the crew at this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is made up of a group of dedicated budding farmers: including vegetable and flower managers, new apprentices, and seasonal helpers.
Rosante relayed, “We built this program to be more than just about the food. It’s about enhancing dignity and worth in each individual we serve. Rather than do the distribution in the back of some parking lot, we’re creating an event that those in need can feel good about being part of. We’re giving families with children something fun to look forward to once a month and changing the way they think about food.”
Confirming that the COVID-19 virus brought forth more attention to those families in our area suffering from food shortages, Rosante revealed, “The pandemic caused a tidal surge in people looking for assistance from local food pantries and other social service organizations. As of November 2020, the Springs Food Pantry saw a 300% increase in demand.”
Commenting on the collaboration with Amber Waves Farm and how it came about, Rosante stated, “To me, this is about so much more than food. It’s about acknowledging the dignity and worth of each individual and giving space to celebrate life. That means holding the distribution somewhere that feels life affirming. Amber Waves is one of the most beautiful places on the East End. I’ve been a grateful patron and supporter for years. I texted Katie and Amanda to ask if they’d host us. They didn’t even blink. Just an immediate and emphatic yes. They’ve been amazing.”
Responding to a query as to how long Rosante thinks the program can last, Rosante avowed, “Until it’s no longer needed.”
Referencing again the collaboration with local schools and what to expect when classes begin again, Rosante indicated, “I’ve been working with the school social workers as the first line to identify children with families in need. People like Susan and Aubrey Peterson. It reaffirms my belief in the goodness of people to see how they and everyone that’s been involved go above and beyond the duties of their jobs to make sure that kids and families are taken care of.”
Concluding, Rosante expressed, “As the program progresses, we’ll listen to hear how the families respond and what their needs are. This first distribution won’t include a party or any forced merriment. When the families pick up their boxes, someone from the team will let them know that the farm is open for exploration if they’d like to walk around, check things out and participate in any activities going on at the time.”
It is always noteworthy when the creation of not only a sensible but worthy collaboration result in practical assistance to those in need. It is undoubtedly heroic when such collaborations are life-saving as well.
Bravo Mr. Rosante and to those working with you to keep our families nourished and comforted during such dismal and trying times.
For more information go to www.goodeatsprogram.com or email [email protected].